It’s official: New school will be named Sullivan East Middle

Rick Wagner • Updated Sep 15, 2017 at 8:33 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — Sullivan East Middle School will be the name of the new school in the Sullivan East High zone, the Board of Education unanimously decided, based on results of an online survey and a committee recommendation.

Students, parents and teachers from the East zone served on the naming committee; the survey was open to anyone. The mascot and colors also match the high school: Patriots and red, white and blue.

The board voted 7-0 for the renaming at its Thursday night meeting, and it also approved a plan to move forward with putting out site preparation work to bid. The mass grading work, architect Dineen West said at a board work session before the meeting, will undergo a pre-bid conference in mid-October and be bid out by the end of the month.

“We’re ready to put that (mass grading bid information) out in a couple of weeks,” said West, of Kingsport-based Cain Rash West Architects.

That sets the stage for a groundbreaking tentatively set for the first week of November, with the bid for the building to be let in December and construction to start in the winter. The school is supposed to open in the fall of 2019 and cost an estimated $21 to $22 million, West said, just more than the original $20 million working figure.

Access to the school is to be off Weaver Pike, with a proposed second access road eliminated to save money. In addition, the plan is using the least expensive of four sewer/septic solutions, a $750,000 separate septic system for the middle school, to save money and make for future flexibility. Other options, including two using sewer service, cost $2 million and $1.7 million, and not including the high school saved $750,000.

The middle school is to be about a mile from the high school and is along the federally designated Overmountain Victory Trail.

During the board meeting, Director of Schools Evelyn Rafalowski and board member Jerry Greene said plans are underway to build an amphitheater to acknowledge the trail that runs through the school property, and Rafalowski said the system is working with county Planning Director Amber Torbett to get financial assistance from the National Park Service.

In the naming survey, East Middle got 1,451 of 4,082 votes cast among five options. The second choice of the survey was Overmountain Middle School, with 1,329 votes.

A traffic study in cooperation with the Tennessee Department of Transportation will occur soon, architects said.

The facility, to be just short of 85,000 square feet, can “comfortably” serve 750 students, Rafalowski said, although expansion plans to add classrooms two at a time could increase that capacity to 800 or beyond. The food services, gym facilities and other infrastructure could support 800 students.

BOE member Mark Ireson suggested going ahead and making the capacity a true 800 so the system won’t have to go back later and enlarge the facility.

The new middle school and a new high school off Exit 63 of Interstate 81, a project to cost about $60 million and be finished by the fall of 2020, are being funded from a $140 million countywide bond issue that also is funding capital projects for Kingsport and Bristol, Tenn., schools.